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These feelings are all normal. And if you neglect your own health, it can become overwhelming. You can help them to cope with depression symptoms, overcome negative thoughts, and regain their energy, optimism, and enjoyment of life. Start by learning all you can about depression and how to best talk about it with your friend or family member. Depression is a serious condition. Depression makes it difficult for a person to connect on a deep emotional level with anyone, even the people they love the most.
Remember that this is the depression talking, not your loved one, so try not to take it personally. In fact, this may keep the depressed person from seeking treatment. Have patience as you encourage your loved one to take the first small steps to recovery. While you can offer love and support, ultimately recovery is in the hands of the depressed person. Family and friends are often the first line of defense in the fight against depression. You may notice the problem in a depressed loved one before they do, and your influence and concern can motivate them to seek help.
Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities. Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.
Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life. Frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain. Or complains of feeling tired and drained all the time. Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps.
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice.
Often, the simple act of talking face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again.
Be gentle, yet persistent. Finding a way to start a conversation about depression with your loved one is always the hardest part. You could try saying:. Remember, being supportive involves offering encouragement and hope. Very often, this is a matter of talking to the person in language that they will understand and can respond to while in a depressed state of mind. In the U. It may be hard to believe that the person you know and love would ever consider something as drastic as suicide, but a depressed person may not see any other way out.
Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic but it is one of the best things you can do for someone who is thinking about suicide. Getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Depression saps energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting to your loved one. Depression also involves negative ways of thinking.
The depressed person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless. Because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problem—and helping them see that it can be solved—is an essential step in depression recovery. Suggest a general check-up with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a family doctor than a mental health professional.
If the doctor diagnoses depression, they can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Offer to help the depressed person find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit. Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult, and is often a trial-and-error process. For a depressed person already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into the options. Encourage your loved one to make a thorough list of symptoms and ailments to discuss with the doctor.
One of the most important things you can do to help a friend or relative Anyone else need to get out depression is to give your unconditional love and support throughout the treatment process. This involves being compassionate and patient, which is not always easy when dealing with the negativity, hostility, and moodiness that go hand in hand with depression. Provide whatever assistance the person needs and is willing to accept.
Help your loved one make and keep appointments, research treatment options, and stay on schedule with any treatment prescribed. Have realistic expectations. It can be frustrating to watch a depressed friend or family member struggle, especially if progress is slow or stalled. Having patience is important. Lead by example. Encourage the person to lead a healthier, mood-boosting lifestyle by doing it yourself: maintain a positive outlook, eat better, avoid alcohol and drugs, exercise, and lean on others for support.
Encourage activity. Invite your loved one to you Anyone else need to get out uplifting activities, like going to a funny movie or having dinner at a favorite restaurant.
Exercise is especially helpfulso try to get your depressed loved one moving. Going on walks together is one of the easiest options. Pitch in when possible. Seemingly small tasks can be very hard for someone with depression to manage. Offer to help out with household responsibilities or chores, but only do what you can without getting burned out yourself! You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself.
Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down.
However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. Set boundaries. Of course you want to help, but you can only do so much.
To avoid burnout and resentment, set clear limits on what you are willing and able to do. Stay on track with your own life. While some changes in your daily routine may be unavoidable while caring for your friend or relative, do your best to keep appointments and plans with friends. If your depressed loved one is unable to go on an outing or trip you had planned, ask a friend to you instead. Seek support. You are NOT betraying your depressed relative or friend by turning to others for support.
ing a support group, talking to a counselor or clergyman, or confiding in a trusted friend will help you get through this tough time. Make sure you can be totally honest with the person you turn to—choose someone who will listen without interruption and without judging you. Authors: Melinda Smith, M.
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